Well, that didn’t go as planned.

One trip out of the country, to Iceland in January, followed by lockdown travel restrictions and an opportunistic infection trying to eat my right arm off at the elbow.

The enforced home-staying did mean I got to do a lost more astronomy than I otherwise would have, but this was curtailed towards the end of the year by the bloody awful weather. Clear nights were few and far between and tended to coincide with total exhaustion on my part.

Back in 2004, when I installed wordpress as a stop-gap until I finished writing my own CMS, I asked myself the question:

Well, to answer myself, I still seem to be writing here, however sporadically. This year did see a more frequent run of posts, mostly because I decided to try to document the first lockdown and also because I had astronomy photos to post.

2021 will be the year I document things more, here and elsewhere. Lets see if I keep to that. Hello Me of the year 2036 if you’re looking back and writing a retrospective post.

Long term art project

Take several (perhaps an irrational number – if it seem arty enough – of) Henry Hoovers and place them in wilderness locations around the planet.

Record what happens to them with a time-lapse camera until they have totally disintegrated – may take thousands of years. When the last has fully returned to the earth, print all the images recorded in a flick book.

Title of the book? Nature Abhors a Vacuum.

Hopefully our great great great^n descendants will appreciate the effort for a weak pun.

I am become Death, the destroyer of snails.

I like snails. Not to eat, but as animals in themselves. I’ve even done a stand-up comedy set about slugs and snails. I find them fascinating. I don’t kill them on purpose.

Since taking up cycling to work, I have accidentally killed many snails. There is a patch of tarmac connecting Castle Green park and the cycle-path alongside the A13 (https://www.google.com/maps/@51.5327466,0.1178673,20.03z); Snails love it.

After every period of damp weather, this short stretch of path is covered with snails, many already dead from previous pedestrians and cyclists. Even at low speed, you can’t help but hit one or two.

Sorry snails.

Considering Phlebas

Turning the wheel and looking to windward
Turning the wheel and looking to windward

I went sailing for the first time in 30-something years. Many thanks to Alan for hosting me and trusting me with the wheel of his pride and joy. From Thorpe le Soken to Felixstowe and back again.

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

Back to the lab.

I’ve spent twenty weeks away from the lab, one and a half of those with a creeping infection trying to eat my right arm off at the elbow and a further four of those some form of holiday (except for the four days spent working over those four weeks).

I’ve taken to cycling to work, which takes me down the A13 to Beckton, and then on to the Greenway to Stratford. I’m really rather pleased by the cycle routes available now, definitely improved since I last used to cycle that way about twenty years ago. I’ve only nearly been hit by a white van once.

Cycling to work obviously presents me with a chance to gather data, so data gathering I’ve been doing. I’m using google fit and runkeeper on my phone to log the journey and they both agree it takes between 45 and 50 minutes door to door. I’ve have a better idea when I’ve collected more than a week of riding.  The same journey on the Tube would take 45 minutes on a good day and closer to an hour typically. The one thing I’m really missing is the time to read on the train – it’s hard to multitask on a bike.

Only a single Astrophoto worth sharing this week. Five hours integrated exposure on NGC6888  – The Crescent Nebula. This is a work in progress project.

It’s what happens when a star sheds a load of gas into the surrounding neighbourhood, then sometime later starts blasting out a ferocious stellar wind, which catches up with the earlier shed gas and ploughs into it with enough energy to make it glow in visible light and X-rays.
NGC6888 - The Crescent Nebula